A man scolded his brother for “despicable abuse” of their teenage niece before kicking her in the face, but the kick was believed to have been a minor factor in the brother’s death. Facing a Brisbane court on the eve of his 50th birthday, a tearful Gregory Jason Krause pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing bodily harm, with a charge of unlawful assault causing death being dropped by prosecutors.
The word tragedy is often overused but can be applied to the circumstances of Krause’s offense on February 24, 2020, Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Martin Burns said on Wednesday. That day Justin Krause arrived at the family home in Nanango, northwest Brisbane – where the brothers’ parents, sister, and daughter also lived – after staying with friends for days and likely consuming methamphetamine, the court heard.
He was agitated when he later came out of his bedroom and abused his sister and daughter. “It was despicable abuse, especially the abuse directed at a 14-year-old girl,” Judge Burns said. Krause heard it from his bedroom and walked out, telling his brother to get out of the house. He went back to his room, but his brother followed him. The pair engaged in a struggle during which Krause was struck in the back of the head.
Her brother fell, crashing into a shop window, during the ensuing struggle. Krause was pulled away by his father but kicked his brother – who was on his hands and knees – once in the face before the two men walked away. Judge Burns said photographs suggested Krause had used “considerable force”, with a scan the following day revealing his brother had fractured bones in his nose and eye sockets. Justin Krause’s condition deteriorated and he went into cardiac arrest at the hospital the day after the assault.
The Crown dropped a charge of unlawful striking causing death on Wednesday after a medical expert provided evidence that the blow, if any, could only have been a minor contributor. Justin Krause had a “constellation of serious medical issues, not the least of which was serious drug addiction,” Judge Burns said. Krause had been overcome with remorse upon learning of his brother’s death and suffered from anxiety and depression.
But he was told there was no excuse for kicking someone on the ground. “It’s a cowardly act, but what’s in your favor is that you didn’t persist in this act,” the judge said. He admitted Krause’s action was spontaneous and likely a reaction to the first hit from behind, but said that didn’t change the rude and unnecessary overreaction. The court heard that Krause’s criminal history primarily involved drug and dishonesty offenses, but he was also convicted in 2003 of committing aggravated robbery with two of his brothers while a drug addict.
Krause was sentenced to two years behind bars but was immediately released on parole after spending 259 days in custody.